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Profile of a Goal Achiever: Water Efficiency and Campus Engagement at UNMC

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jul 16, 2021

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) was founded in 1881 and is Nebraska’s only publicly supported health sciences center. The campus sits on 165 acres in Omaha and enrolls nearly 4,000 students annually. UNMC joined the Better Buildings Challenge in 2016, committing 6.8 million square feet of building space to the challenge with a 2012 baseline.

In 2021, the organization reached and exceeded its water savings goal. The campus now achieves 23% water savings annually despite increases in the number of students, staff, and buildings in recent years. Through this accomplishment and its ongoing commitment to energy efficiency, UNMC is able to save money on energy and water and reinvest these savings back into students and patient care. The campus has also committed to net zero building emissions and water by 2030.

UNMC’s water efficiency solutions included:

  • Replaced non-recirculating cooling systems on freezers, MRI, and electron microscopes
  • Repaired faucet aerators and switched to high-efficiency faucets
  • Installed high-efficiency toilets and urinals
  • Updated water fountains with bottle refill stations
  • Improved cooling tower efficiency

Along the way toward this goal, the organization published a Better Buildings Showcase Project on its Maurer Center for Public Health. The 62,000-square-foot building features rooftop solar panels that produce approximately 70 MWh of energy annually, as well as high-tech smart rooms, segmented HVAC systems, and LED lighting with occupancy sensors.

To reach its efficiency goals, UNMC has also developed a variety of campus engagement tools to help build sustainability skills among staff and students. Read more about these strategies in this Implementation Model.

Congratulations to UNMC for its 2021 water efficiency Goal Achievement. Learn more about the 2021 Goal Achievers on the Better Buildings Solution Center.